what would YOU say........

May 7, 2005
South Carolina
I'll be doing an hour long radio interview about storm-chasing next week. I finally agreed to do this in lieu of the Dumas, AR and Enterprise, AL tragedies. The main reason I'm doing this is to educate people about what do to when a tornado approaches, and what should SCHOOLS do, etc etc etc. The storm CHASING aspect is something I would NOT recommend for anyone to do...lol Some of the questions they will ask me will be about the school in Enterprise, AL, how to recognize a tornado, the basic questions about watches vs warnings, and other miscellaneous things. My question to all of you is....What would be the ONE most important thing YOU would want to mention, or explain to an audience that knows very little about storms in general? I want to cover everything that seems important, but give me some input. I already know the Enterprise, AL event will be one of the main topics.
I would stress first and foremost that if a watch or warning is issued, there's a reason for it and they should pay attention to further announcements. The general public for the most part doesn't understand why there's a tornado watch issued when there's nothing but blue above them.
First thing I always do before granting any interviews is find out what their angle on the storm chasing is, and stipulate that I won't be a part of it if they are going to make chasers out to be some sort of crazy idiots.

Many well meaning chasers have had their words twisted and made to look foolish by certain media with a less than favorable agenda. Any good message you may wish to convey about chasing or severe wx safety, etc will be lost if the person doing the story has a different motive.
Mark makes a very good point. I know many people, including my own dad, who will say "it will never happen" when a tornado watch is issued - they say this because they look out the window and see clear blue skies.

When you think about it, it really is a dangerous perception for people to have - because should they be the unfortunate ones in the path of a tornado that quickly develops they may not be prepared because in their mind it would never happen.
Tell them the easiest and best way to protect themselves is getting a NOAA wx radio. I am so sick of hearing people being interviewed after a tornado saying they didnt hear the sirens so they didnt have any warning. Ofcourse we all know the sirens are not meant to be an indoor warning system but much of the public doesnt understand that. They believe they should hear them in bed in the middle of the night during a major storm

Even school officials should have a wx radio in the office so they can respond quickly and gets the kids to shelter.
The targeted audience is basically a country station, but a talk format in the mornings, when I'll do my interview. The people asking me to do the interview are people I've actually known for some time, so I'm not worried about them trying to make it out to be anything other than what it is. The wx radio is a very good idea, and I couldn't agree more. Also, when I got to Dumas, and asked some of the people there if they had a warning, get THIS....the reply I got from more than one person was, "The sirens went off 5-10 before the tornado got here, but we had NO warnings!" HUH? Apparantly they thought the sirens meant a tornado MIGHT happen, I don't know, but that's something I thought I might mention. Also, this is off topic for a minute, but we are going to try and raise money to buy people wx radios...do any of you know of someone, or a organization already doing this, that we could coordinate our efforts with? Thanks for the input so far, gives me things to think about.
Remind people to not take cover underneath overpasses....maybe not the most important thing, but is one of the most misconceived means of safety by the general public.
Also, this is off topic for a minute, but we are going to try and raise money to buy people wx radios...do any of you know of someone, or a organization already doing this, that we could coordinate our efforts with? Thanks for the input so far, gives me things to think about.

Not sure about raising money to buy them for people, but the TV station I chase for works with a local supermarket chain and Midland radio and they offer a radio that retails for $49.95 in the supermarkets for $29.99 and promote that and they sell like hotcakes. It's a win/win/win for everyone. The retailer gets the advertising and the consumer get's a fantastic discount on the radio.

Maybe you guys could work up some sort of long term deal on that? They have been doing that locally for almost 2 years now and there was a Midland representative heavily involved in making that happen.
This is probably off topic, But I was wondering What forecasters talked about the day Prior to the March 1st outbreak. For Most or all of us that use the SPC Convective outlooks, finding a High risk is basically a promise for severe weather. I wonder if the TV Forecasters go into detail about the High risk to inform the immediate public of the storm prediction centers concern. Therefore informing there viewers that Severe Weather is Likely and should be alert by all means.

Other than that, You should go into detail about what Watches and Warnings mean. Urge the public to get a NOAA radio. Go into details about the safest place to be during a tornado whether in a House with a basement or a house without a basement and also a Mobile home or even being caught outside and what they should do. Seems going into detail about MD's and further Forecasting terms would be pointless for severe weather discussions so maybe a Mention of the storm prediction center so people will have extra resources, etc.

Live interviews are better for avoiding the producers/editors trying to put a unfavorable 'spin' on things. It's the pre-recorded ones to watch out for, as then they can cut-and-paste your words any way they see fit. Thankfully that can't be done when you're live.